website accessibility: section 508

ease of access

creating accessible websites

508 accessibility guidelines increase usability and readability for site visitors


Section 508 refers to the government-developed standards by which web sites meeting the needs of the handicapped are to be developed. These standards are intended to provide reasonable access to all web sites by those with disabilities.

While the definition can be confusing, sixteen standards were developed:

  • Every non-text element needs to have a text equivalent
  • Any multimedia needs to have equivalent alternatives, synchronized to it
  • Information that is displayed with color needs to be able to be read and analyzed without color as well
  • Documents need to be readable without a style sheet.
  • An image map on the server side needs redundant text links.
  • Client-side image maps are provided when geometric shapes can be used.
  • Data tables will have row and column headers for identification.
  • Markup will be used for data cell association.
  • Frames will be identified with titles.
  • Screen flicker frequency is also regulated.
  • If compliance cannot be done any other way, a text-only version of the site needs to be provided and updated as often as the regular page.
  • If scripting languages are used, functional text needs to be provided to be read by assistive technology.
  • If a plugin is needed (such as Flash or Shockwave), a link needs to be provided to download the necessary plugin.
  • All forms needing input need to be usable with assistive technology.
  • No repetitive navigation links.
  • If there is a timed response necessary, the user needs to be alerted as such and given sufficient time.


The W3C, World Wide Web Consortium, established in 1994, is the Internet's Web Standards Authoritative Organization that advocates Web Standard valid markup and protocol across web based applications, services, platforms, web developers, software companies, browsers, technologies, corporations, and more.

Click the following link for access to detailed W3C Web Standard section located at the bottom of this page.


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